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White House Announces U.S. Papal Funeral Delegation

Rice, former presidents Bush, Clinton to join president and first lady

Posted: April 5, 2005

The White House announced April 5 that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and former presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton will join President Bush and first lady Laura Bush in the U.S. delegation to Rome for the funeral of Pope John Paul II on April 8.

Following is the announcement on the funeral delegation:

(begin text)

THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Press Secretary

April 5, 2005

President George W. Bush today announced the delegation accompanying him and Mrs. Laura Bush to the Funeral Mass of His Holiness Pope John Paul II, on Friday, April 8, 2005, will include:

Former President George H.W. Bush

Former President William J. Clinton

The Honorable Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of State

(end text)

President Bush said he is looking forward to leading a delegation to the funeral of Pope John Paul II on April 8, stating that he and first lady Laura Bush “look forward to the majesty of celebrating such a significant human life.”

Speaking to reporters after meeting with Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko April 4, Bush said the pope “will go down in history” as an example of how “one man can make a difference in people's lives,” citing in particular the pope’s influence with young people.

White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan announced that the president and first lady will lead the delegation to attend the funeral of Pope John Paul II in Rome.

Stating that the president has “great respect” for the late pontiff’s moral leadership, McClellan added, “certainly he was an inspiration to the president and Mrs. Bush.”

The press secretary said the delegation will depart for Rome the morning of April 6 and that the president was likely to participate in one or two bilateral meetings April 7 before returning to the United States April 8. President Bush’s planned April 11 meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in Texas will go on as scheduled, McClellan said.

“The president had the highest respect and admiration for the Holy Father,” he said, adding later, “The Pope was someone who stood firmly for freedom and stood firmly for the human dignity of all people all across the world.”

Describing the deceased pontiff as “someone who spoke out for the poor and the weak and the outcast,” McClellan said President Bush “was honored” to have known the pontiff.

In honor of the pontiff, the president on April 2 ordered the flag of the United States to be flown at half staff throughout the United States, at U.S. embassies and on all U.S. military posts and U.S. naval vessels until sunset the day of the pope's burial.



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